As a crowd gathered around his locker on Wednesday afternoon, James Bradberry smirked. He knew what was coming.
During an offseason of sour grapes for the 49ers, star receiver Deebo Samuel took a shot at Bradberry, calling him “trash.” And then this week, Samuel had a chance to walk back those comments and chose not to.
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Bradberry, 30, took a diplomatic approach on Wednesday.
“Of course, I don’t necessarily like what he said,” Bradberry said. “I wish he would have used a better word to describe my play. But it is what it is. At the end of the day, all I can do is control my work ethic and what I do day to day.”
Bradberry, who was a second-team All-Pro in 2022, has had a bit of an up-and-down 2023 season. But he’s coming off what was arguably his best game of the year. Against the Bills, Bradberry had a game-changing interception off Josh Allen and five pass breakups. Bradberry is in his eighth NFL season in 2023.
While Bradberry showed extreme professionalism on Wednesday, avoiding a public back-and-forth, he was asked if there was ever a point in his career where words like this would have bothered him.
“You know what, I’ve been playing football since I was 8,” he said. “I’m 30 now so I’ve been playing roughly 22 years of my life. I’ve had people say negative things about me in the past. When I was coming out of high school, people said I couldn’t do it. When I was in college, I was transferring, people said I couldn’t play corner because I was playing safety originally. And then coming into the league, people said I couldn’t do certain things.
“I got drafted in the second round. It’s my eighth year in the league. So, really, negative comments don’t really bother me like that. I try not to let it get to me. I just try to control my work ethic and lining up on Sunday and whatever cards I have, I’m gonna play them. And let the product speak for itself.”
The Eagles beat the 49ers 31-7 in the NFC Championship Game last January to advance to Super Bowl LVII. In that game, the 49ers ended up getting both of their quarterbacks hurt and the Eagles routed them.
Why does Bradberry think Samuel would call him trash?
“You would have to ask him,” Bradberry answered. “From the clips that I saw, they felt like they had a good game plan against us, they felt like they had some open routes against us. Yeah, I don’t know. You gotta ask him.”
A lot has changed since the last time the Eagles and 49ers played each other but they’re still two of the best teams in the conference and in the league. The Eagles come into Sunday’s matchup with a 10-1 record, while the 49ers are 8-3 but also favored in the game.
Even though these two teams are different, there’s still plenty of history between these two sides. But Bradberry on Wednesday claimed these comments wouldn’t give him any extra motivation.
“Nah, because last year’s last year,” he said. “I think the extra motivation just comes from it being a conference opponent because they’re in the NFC with us. And they’re a great team so it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”